Resveratrol fails (again) to boost energy

You often hear people say, I feel so tired before working out. But then, I make myself do it. And I actually have more energy afterward!

This isn’t just preening, pro-exercise propaganda.

It’s scientific fact.

Regular aerobic exercise stimulates your muscle cells to form more mitochondria. And, as I explained yesterday, mitochondria are your cells’ “energy factories.”

So, with regular exercise, your cells can burn more carbs for more energy, when needed. If we put this concept into automotive terms, it’s like replacing an in-line, 4-piston engine with a V-8.

Of course, big pharma would like to make a drug that really sparks this process. But so far, nothing they’ve come up with can compete with what Nature has already made. In fact, yesterday, I told you about two natural ingredients that help stoke your cells’ “energy factories”–South African red bush (rooibos) and coenzyme Q10.

Some early research showed that resveratrol–the much-hyped phytochemical found in grapes and red wine–works in the same way. But, as I often warn, the assumptions and early studies on resveratrol were flawed. And it’s far from a “magic bullet” or a “fountain of youth.” In fact, the leading researcher who promoted resveratrol for years pled guilty to faking hundreds of studies and reports on resveratrol shortly before he died last year.

Recently, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine re-examined some of the early research that found resveratrol increases the formation of new mitochondria in muscle cells.

For this study, both mice and rats were fed medically tolerable doses of resveratrol. And they didn’t form more mitochondria. Only at extremely high, toxic doses of resveratrol did the mice and rats produce more mitochondria. (Perhaps because the cells were being poisoned by the excess chemical at these levels.)

Of course, resveratrol’s main claim to fame is as a heart supplement. And many unscrupulous marketeers promote it as a “magic bullet” for the heart. But as I’ve always said, those assumptions and research conclusions are flawed too.

Yes, many studies show that drinking moderate amounts of red wine lowers cardiovascular disease risk. But it turns out that drinking moderate amounts of beer and spirits works too.

So, it’s  most likely we get these benefits simply because drinking any kind of alcohol in moderation reduces stress. And stress is the real silent killer behind blood pressure and heart disease as well as other chronic diseases.

And, if you were to try drinking enough red wine for resveratrol to produce more “energy factories,” it would be toxic to your tissues. And you’d be too intoxicated to put one foot in the front of the other.


  1. “Exercise in a Pill? The Search Continues,” New York Times ( 7/17/2013